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Sleep Training Part 1: The Background

This is me and Lyon the day after Thanksgiving.

I remember Lyon being up (which subsequently meant dad & I were up) for about 5-6 hours that night, and it was a sad sad sight at breakfast the next morning.  The 3 of us were zombies – eyes sunken, no expressions whatsoever, sleep deprived and clearly not happy.

I knew something had to change.

I battled with Sleep Training and crying-it-out (cio) for months, as I was uneasy with the concept and what type of psychological damage it would have on my baby.  But after 6 weeks straight of no sleep for my family, it was time to put my fears aside and go the route that all of my mom friends said was inevitable… “You have to let him cry-it-out, Alice.  Trust me, you’re doing what’s best for your family.”

So, in hopes of this blog post helping someone…a mother like me struggling with the idea of letting her baby cry… I’ve decided to blog my experience.  I’ve broken this up into two posts because of the amount of detail involved:  (a) a little background & information and (b) my experience & the results.  Here we go…

First some background info: Lyon is 8 months old now, in the 95th percentile in weight & height, eats about 25-30 oz of formula and 9 oz of solids per day.  Clearly, he’s not starving.  He’s also teething, which I believe is what disrupted this wonderful sleeper’s slumber at night.  He went from sleeping 12 consecutive hours at night + 3-4 hours per day to maybe 8 hours at night and 2 hours per day.  This led to loss of appetite, weight loss, fusiness throughout the day and of course, sleep deprivation.

I consulted with Laura Hunter from Moms on Call prior to starting Sleep Training.  As a mother of 5, Laura has experienced it all.  She was able to guide me through this experience while providing me the “tough love” I needed to get through this.

Here’s what she wrote me:


He can sleep through the night. He can put himself to sleep but you have not given him a chance to. Every thing we do creates habit good or bad.

If it were me, I would feed at 7/7:30pm, put him down by 7:30/8pm, awake, LOUD sound machine close by, pitch black in the room and get out. He will throw a fit for up to 1 1/2-2hrs. Then sleep for a couple and do it again all night the first night. It gets better every night. I do not worry about naps till we get through the night. Make sure you have breathable bumper pads so arms/legs do not get stuck.

The longer you wait the harder it is. But you have to do it when you are ready.

The stories I get almost daily when parents do this are amazing. Over and over it is “I cannot believe how happy he is”, “He wakes up singing now”, “he will lay in his bed for 30 mins talking to himself” etc.

You can give a small lovie if you like in the crib.

Plan B is to put him down and set a goal “I will not go in til ???” Then do not go in till set time then every few days move set time. This takes longer and to me is tougher then just doing it and getting it over with.



What I admittedly am HUGELY at fault is that I’m a rocker.  I rock Lyon to sleep every time.  I can’t help it – he’s so insanely cute when he falls asleep in my arms, and there’s an untold emotional connection that comes when your son feels safe and secure in your arms as he drifts to sleep.

Also, it’s easy.  I can rock Lyon to sleep in less than 90 seconds usually…

This is also where my biggest blunder is.  Sigh.  I’m supposed to put Lyon to bed awake so he can learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on his own.  If I had started when he was younger, say 3-4 months old, it would have been a lot easier.  Especially in times like this when he’s reaching developmental milestones…

In saying this, I believed crying-it-out to be so cruel.  Why punish Lyon for something that wasn’t his fault (more so, mine.  I shouldn’t have rocked Lyon to sleep for so long)?  So, I went to Laura again and asked for her support.  A few questions that I had:

Q:  What can I expect to happen over the next few days?

A:  First night is tough. They may cry on and off all night. Better and better every night.  Days may be a bit tired until through the night

Q:  This method seems somewhat cruel to me….almost like I’m punishing him for something that’s not his fault.  Will Lyon think I’m abandoning him when I don’t go to him like I normally do?  How will this affect him longterm?  Will he have abandonment issues?

A:  What is the truth? The truth is he is loved, in a wonderful family, and in a great home! It is three nights–5 nights. I would rather be miserable for a few nights than so exhausted that am not enjoying my family.

If you stay the course, and you as a family do not get your rest, you will start to become *gulp* resentful towards yourself, towards your husband, and towards your baby.  It is far worse to live that life than to try teach your child to sleep.

Q:  When he goes through his next developmental milestone (say, sitting up by himself & not being able to get back down), will I have to go through all of this sleep training again?  How will that be?

A:  Yes, but it won’t be nearly as bad.

I decided to Sleep Train in 3 phases:  (1) Sleep through the night, (2) Fall asleep on his own without rocking (3) Tie in everything for his naps.

My next post will be the reality of how it all unfolds, how/if I survive it, and what I learn from it all…  Fingers crossed, wish me luck!

Stay tuned!


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